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Trump administration unveils new executive order on counterterrorism sanctions

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled a new executive order that, among other provisions aimed at expanding counterterrorism sanctions, will allow the U.S. to target terrorist leaders without having to tie them to specific acts.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that they risk sanctions if they knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with designated terrorists and terrorist enablers,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE said in a statement accompanying the executive order. 

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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: 'Dangerous' for Twitter to take 'non-viewpoint-neutral' stance Pompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal On The Money: Sides tiptoe towards a COVID deal, but breakthrough appears distant | Expiring benefits raise stakes of stimulus talks | Stocks fade with eyes on Capitol MORE detailed the measure during a briefing with reporters at the White House, but the announcement was overshadowed by the firing of national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJohn Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Bolton: North Korea 'more dangerous now' Demand for Trump-related titles sparks expected record year for political books MORE, who had been scheduled to attend the event, just two hours earlier. 

The executive order amends a previous directive to allow the State and Treasury Departments to directly target leaders of terrorist groups and associated entities without having to tie them to specific acts, Pompeo said. 

He also said it “more effectively and efficiently targets individuals and entities who participate in terrorist training, and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with terrorists.” 

Mnuchin said the executive order “greatly enhances our ability to identify, sanction and deter perpetrators of terrorism worldwide.”

In conjunction with the announcement, the Treasury Department sanctioned more than a dozen leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with designated terror groups, including those affiliated with ISIS and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force. The State Department also announced 12 new terrorist designations on Tuesday. 

The announcement came on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Pompeo called the measure the “most significant update” to counterterrorism authorities in 18 years.  

“Today’s executive order … adds further muscle to U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” he said. “It will help us to ensure that the deadly attacks of Sept. 11 that occurred 18 years ago this week will never be repeated on American soil.” 

The briefing took place shortly after President Trump abruptly announced he had ousted John Bolton as national security adviser. Bolton was originally scheduled to attend Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, before Trump tweeted that he had submitted his resignation. 

Asked if they were caught off guard by Bolton’s sudden departure, Pompeo responded that he’s “never surprised.”

“And I don’t mean that on just this issue,” Pompeo said. “And I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing.”